We have always thought the man and the story behind this incredible little bodega are nearly as intriguing as the property's wonderful wine. Indeed, Angel Rodriguez and the emergence of Rueda as the most prestigious still white wine-producing region of Spain are synonymous. Angel's story is the story of a unique grape called Verdejo. Although Verdejo is among only a handful of truly noble Spanish white varietals, Verdejo was in serious danger of extinction by the early 1970's due to the pervasive planting of more prolific native varietals such as Viura and Palomino and the introduction of international favorites such as Chardonnay. Through his loving refusal to uproot his ancient 17th century vineyard calledMartinsancho, Angel Rodriguez saved the shy bearing, thick-skinned Verdejo from extinction.
The original majuelo or 17th century vineyard of Martinsancho is less than one acre of gnarled, ungrafted vines, preserved in isolation as a museum of pre-phylloxera viticulture and a continuing source of undisputed varietal authenticity. Once considered an anachronism and an economic liability, nurseries throughout Europe now treasure the Martinsancho vineyard and its beloved Verdejo for the vine cuttings it provides and the legacy it has preserved. Yet, thirty-five years ago no one seemed to care about this old vineyard with extremely low yielding vines; in fact, few had even heard of Martinsancho's existence. Besides, Verdejo was not deemed profitable enough then by most experts to preserve, let alone grow, despite the vine's noble pedigree and the undisputed quality of the wine it produced. Yet, in spite of the prevailing pressure and "expert advice" to uproot the old vineyard, Angel Rodriguez preserved it, and then undertook the near impossible or what many have called sheer lunacy: he re-grafted a vineyard by hand onto 25 acres of premier land, using Martinsancho cuttings.
Subsequently, other Rueda growers have planted Verdejo with the help of Angel Rodriguez, to the point that today this shy bearing vine is once again the leading white varietal in Rueda. For his great sacrifice and untiring efforts in favor of re-establishing Verdejo's prominence in its region of origin, Angel Rodriguez has been officially honored by King Juan Carlos of Spain. Yet, in spite of his great accomplishment and the recognition that followed, Angel Rodriquez remains a humble man who believes in tradition. He steadfastly maintains a very low-tech approach to the natural production of his wine, which are totally organic and include little or no added sulfites – a rarity, especially for white wine.